Canada's House speaker rejects grain bill amendment on railway payment

Thu May 1, 2014 11:33am EDT

May 1 (Reuters) - The speaker of Canada's House of Commons rejected on Thursday a bill amendment that would allow the government to force railway companies to compensate shippers for expenses incurred because of railways' failure to deliver service.

The amendment was part of a broader Conservative bill by which the government would set minimum levels of grain shipments by rail to avoid the huge crop backlogs that have hurt farmers' cash flow this winter.

Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled that the amendment was outside the scope of the legislation.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the government still has options.

"These Parliamentary games are simply an unfortunate speed bump and will not deter this government from amending (the bill) to include service level agreements with penalties," Ritz said in a statement. "We look forward to the continued support of the House as we move this important legislation through Parliament."

A record-breaking harvest and frigid winter have overwhelmed Canadian National Railway Co and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, which move Canada's crops from country elevators to port. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Grant McCool)

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