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Fuel price blockade: APTA makes no apologies for position
MONCTON, N.B. -- The president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association is defending the group's decision to distance itself from an ad-hoc coalition of independent truckers that blocked sections of the Trans Canada to protest surging fuel prices. In a letter to the Moncton Times and Transcript, Ralph Boyd answered critics who were angered that the province's largest trucking association refused to support the striking owner-ops. Earlier this month, about 500 independent truckers -- who at first called themselves the Truckers and Drivers Association of North America -- parked their tractors along the Trans Canada for three days in several parts of Northern New Brunswick. The truckers finally dispersed after a court injunction was ordered and RMCP threatened them with stiff fines. "While we sympathized with the participants of the protest in their quest to lower fuel prices, we did not support the action of blocking the Trans-Canada and other secondary highways to all truck traffic," Boyd writes. "Through the Minister (of Intergovernmental Affairs Percy Mockler), we offered to sit down and have a discussion with the group about using some alternative methods to get the results they desired without resorting to blocking the highway. Unfortunately, our offer was not accepted. " Boyd says members of the APTA have also felt helpless and frustrated as fuel prices continued to rise over the past few years. "They have responded by doing the only thing they have the power to do -- dealing directly with their customers by charging appropriately for their increased operating costs," he writes. "Implementing fuel surcharge was, and continues to be, a struggle but they have recognized the necessity of working together as an industry to demand compensation from their customers in order to survive in this business." During the blockade, says Boyd, members of the APTA and many non-members expressed concern about their customers, their lost revenue, and the freight claims they would be facing as loads spoiled. Finally, the executive of the APTA responded by voting unanimously to seek a court injunction to end the blockades. "It was no pleasure to have to take that action but as our offers to meet with the protestors were ignored, and the stores ran out of goods and the costs to our members sitting in that line-up grew, on behalf of our members felt we had no choice but to take this legal action," he continues. Boyd says that following the end to the blockades, he has continued to try to locate the representatives of the ad-hoc group. He adds that if organizers don't want to speak to the carrier association they can contact Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, who has also agreed to meet with this group to discuss their situation and to offer advice on how to deal with the current fuel crisis. -- from the Moncton Times and Transcript letter to the editor
 
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