Oh sure, why not ! Anybody else…

I partly attribute my loss of a good job, and those of my 20
shipmates last year, to the ability of cargo owners to be quickly granted Canada Transportation Act waiver – where foreign owned ships, who pay no Canadian income tax (among others),
hire no Canadians, yet operate in Canadian waters, or between Canadian
ports. As a guy who’s invested pretty heavily in a seagoing Marine Engineering
career, and the entire BS that goes with it in Canada, this irks me to no end.

As a result, over the last year, I have been following the CanadianTransportation Agency’s (CTA) news feed of the waiver applications. From my
perspective, the type and frequency of the applications is trending upwards. It
used to be that very specialized offshore oil service vessels would be granted
waivers. Now, even tug and barges, tankers, and platform supply vessels are
routinely being applied for.

For example, rarely a month goes by that Irving Oil does not
apply for, and is granted, multiple waivers on the East Coast. You would think that being on the
receiving end of so much of my tax dollars, a sizable portion taken from my meager Canadian
sailor paycheck, via government grants and contracts; they would show leadership
maintaining proper Canadian tanker capacity, for their needs, instead of
bringing in foreign tankers. If they have such a big need to use foreign tonnage, when are they going to be required to do something about it (…I know, I know, its Irving, and I was asking a rhetorical question).
PSV Magne Viking bound to
work in Cdn. waters
In the latest round of applications, mostly for East Coast
operation, I see Platform Supply Vessels on the list. These are not high end
specialized vessels per se. Is there really no Canadian operator willing to
provide a vessel, or is willing to take on a contract to build or operate a
vessel, to support East Coast operations? Not even the willingness to ask a
foreign operator to start a Canadian division, at least have some Canadian
Now, I know as a “West coaster” I am not allowed to work on the
East Coast (anything east of Quebec), so what rights do I have to complain,
but still, this trend is worrisome and infectious. I even see a tug and barge
waiver application. For the love of god! Where does it end?  
Okay, so I am ranting a bit here, and the reason is that I
understand business, hey, it’s competitive out there, bla, bla, bla. But what really
set me off was a visit to the PSV operator’s websites.
Ok, Troms (now part of Tidewater) and Viking, you are planning to work in Canadian waters with your PSV (they are really nice though),
to help other foreign owned and operated assets, exploit Canadian natural
resources off Canada’s coast (which my tax dollar have been administrating and protecting
for years) – great. Perhaps you might be interested in hearing from a Canadian
Marine Engineer – a bonus, “local content” and an access to an experienced
Troms Castor, aptly named perhaps?
So, I think can compete on the global marketplace (well not
really, thanks to Transport Canada, but that’s a different subject), and when I
visit the HR area of these operators’ website, the message is plain spoken;
only Scandinavians seafarers need apply. I could not even send them a resume,
for the remote chance of even being considered.
I am by no means upset by these company’s policy –
well, a little maybe – jealous really – to the contrary, perhaps our
government could grab a clue (and some balls), and follow this example. Because,
I am getting sick and tired of working on old boat, for scraps of work, making
subsistence wages, because we have no faith in investing in Canadian expertise
or equipment, to exploit our own resources. 
I highly recommend that you follow the CTA’s news feed / mailing list yourself –
it’s quite enlightening. The CTA has made it more difficult than it used to be,
to follow these proceedings, requiring an excessive amount of website
navigation to find the marine waiver applications, and those granted, but if
you use the email service, it’s a bit easier to follow. And judging from my
experiences last year with this system, it’s only a matter of time before you,
yes even you, as a Canadian in general, and as a professional seafarer in
particular, are impacted. Educate yourselves, speak out!
Oh yeah, right, the “speak out” part is kinda of a stupid
comment, as the whole process of granting a waivers is not impacted by any
seafarers, or other industry stakeholder for that matter – we have absolutely
no say in the process. The process is entirely between ship owners and cargo /
mission owners, with the government (funded by me) to act as go between, while
they ‘divvy up the pie’ – must be nice.
Maybe you could have a say to your Member of Parliament
instead, not that’s very useful either, judging from my past experiences, but worth a try. Or maybe we should be just done with the window dressing – “protecting” Canadian (very few selected businesses) interest and delete the Coasting Trade Act altogether. Maybe an average taxpayer like me, might not have to fund this insult.
The process, from CTA’s website

This article has 12 Comments

  1. I agree with you 100 percent. Our government has no balls and always look after number one, (themselves)Sometimes I think we need a really good dictator in our government to get our shit together Tom

  2. interesting, but not entirely true, especial when he rights about being a west coaster not being allowed to work east coast. (not true).

    there is always, 2 sides to every story…….and the author may want to understand that Irving Oil no longer owns any ships.
    All ships are chartered.

    I know, I worked for Irving Oil (Kent Lines) for 10 years and felt I made the wise choice of getting out when I did

    Sailed as Master and Ch Officer on Tankers 25 Years -east coast canada (and I am a West Coaster)

    Suck it up princess….

  3. I am the Princess, (author) and of course there is no rule about west coaster, per se, but it is a tongue in cheek comment born of the large number of PFO letters I have gotten from East Coast operators over the last 20 years, including Kent Line.

    As far as Irving is concern, you're absolutely right I have not much information about this, but regardless, if they need to move their product between Canadian ports, they need to use Canadian vessels as required under the CTA.

    Charter or not, the government has a responsibility to make sure the product originating in Canada, going to another Canadian port, using infrastructure and assets paid for and maintained by Canadian taxpayers make some kind of benefits to those Canadians who paid for it.

    I would like to hear more about how you feel leaving Kent Line, was at the right time.

  4. Secunda is running the Troms vessels under charter….no Canadian vessel that met specs was made available for the contract the Viking vessel is on ( it's either servicing the Stena Carron or the West Aquarius drill ship)…..A little research prior to posting would probably be a good idea.

  5. Specs are a funny thing. They can be written very specifically to exclude various items, but the point is, there is no less and less pressure to provide a Canadian asset, especially from my personal experience, unless of course, you have insight you are willing to share. I hope Secunda buys the Castor as it apparently did with the Capella, great, that's the way it should be.

    The problem is the regularity and expediency of the waivers in general, without consideration to the greater maritime community aside from the impact on owners.

  6. its all a scam I live here in nl,there are jobs for stewards and motormen but no liscensed crew.They make the jobs so specialized that no one can qualify then get permits for outsiders.What happened to the Atlantic Accord????

  7. Announced today that Secunda sold a 50 percent share of their fleet to Siem Offshore from Norway. Tradewinds.no has the article.

  8. Things are still the same,scandanavians getting permits while Canadians sit on shore with no jobs!Why is this continuing When will it stop….?

  9. Troms Capella – Chartered by Secunda (changed to canadian flag) crewed by Secunda

    Troms Castor – Run by Troms offshore, Has a few canadian crew on, including myself. hiring was done through a crewing agency as is done with all foreign vessels operating offshore in newfoundland and NS.

    The magne viking is crewed and run by viking offshore, crewing agency supplied various Canadian crew mainly stewards i believe.

    These vessels were all hired because no canadian vessel operators could supply any DP 2 vessels, so the contract was outsourced. If there were any Canadian vessels available for charter then by Canadian law the chartering company is required to hire them.

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