I feel this conversation has gone off the rails.
I too stand to be corrected on any of the following, these are only my assumptions and experiences, somewhat anecdotal:
Firstly, in order to work on a CANADIAN REGISTERED ship, you have to be a landed immigrant or have a temporary work visa or be a citizen. If any old person from overseas could easily work in Canada without having to jump through immigration hoops then we would ALL be out of a job. I have worked with many immigrants and they told me they went through a long and arduous process to get in the country then to another one to even write their CoC's. They also told me their home state CoC were not recognized by marine safety here. So, of course there are legal protections for Canadians when it comes to working in Canada. Exceptions have been made, as you said with regard to seasonal workers. I know of a Russian oil tanker that was allowed to load cargo in Canada and then discharge it in Canada. This is normally not allowed, and I should say this was an exceptional circumstance due to a lack of available tonnage at the time. There is also a foreign worker/seasonal worker program under the Government to allow industry to bring in foreign Temporary workers during labour shortages. If I owned a cargo ship, why would I register it in Canada and crew it with Canadians unless I had too?
I don't remember saying "collusion between competing shipowners". I feel there may be collusion between shipowners and the government, even other players in the biz. My thought, and it was only a thought, was that some companies would love the idea of being able to do business WITHIN CANADA and not hire expensive Canadian crews. This could be achieved by (1)allowing ships not registered in Canada to carry cargoes WITHIN Canada (not just come here, pick up or drop off then go back outside the country) or (2) allow foreign nationals easy access to work in the Canadian domestic shipping industry (i.e. bending the rules, allowing their foreign CoC to be used on a Canadian registered ship, etc).
I am NOT talking about a Canadian shipowner registering their vessels overseas then hiring foreign cheap crews to work in overseas markets. This is old news and has been going on for years. I am talking about here in Canada. Why do Canadian registered ships have Canadian crews? for PR? no, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TOO. If they figured out a way around this requirement don't you think they would lay us all off? I sure think they would. In order to achieve something like this, this theoretical shipowner would have to have the ear of someone(s) high up in Transport Canada or Immigration.
You mentioned you don't see an atom of this but I can tell you that I have. I can't really go into details on such a public forum however I did not invent this idea. I'm not that original
. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that it is about the greed. The greed aspect is the motivating factor to drive out expensive Canadians from their own shipping industry (again, I'm not talking about foreign fleets owned by Canadian shipowners).
So to sum up my original thought: based on my experience in the business, I think that some elements of the marine industry in Canada have made life at sea so intolerable for some people that there is a crew shortage for those companies. I think they do have a hard time finding seafarer's, but only because they choose to continue with an outdated business model. Lousy crew changes, average money, lousy benefits, etc. They have effectively driven the talent out of the labour pool with such conditions. Its a self made shortage. And I surmise, somewhat on purpose. When Husky and the oil and gas industry (which have the best benefits, crew changes, and salary) can't find crews, THEN I'll buy into a REAL labour shortage.